Have you noticed that the discussion about practically every headline-making topic in our world today (COVID, racism, statues, masks, opening schools vs. distance learning, to name just a few) creates bitter disagreement, anger, and sometimes even violence? Not just among believers and non-believers – that’s to be expected, because we form our opinions upon very different foundations. I’m talking about ugly division among believers.
Where is the unity?
In John 17:20-26, Jesus prayed to His Heavenly Father about unity. He prayed for future believers to be unified, so that people would be inspired to believe in His Heavenly Father. When we sit with that for a moment, it hits hard. We all have a purpose on this earth: pointing people toward Jesus, and that purpose is benefitted by being a unifying presence. If the beauty of unity shows people who God is and makes Him known, then it’s time to put unifying behavior on the top of our priority list!
I’m not referring to the kind of unity that we experience when we agree with each other on most every point. What I’m suggesting is that we can have differing views but still express ourselves in a manner that celebrates the unity we have because we were created by and are eternally loved beyond measure by the same God. And that same God gives us the intellect and ability to form different opinions and verbalize them in a way that does not tear people down and cause hostility.
As we share our views, we can be confident without being condescending. We can be bold without being bitter. If we claim to be Jesus-loving Jesus-followers and end a mask debate with one of those “I-hope-you-get-Covid” type comments, does that promote unity? And if we question whether someone’s faith is genuine based upon their support for a platform, law, or candidate, we automatically put them on the defensive instead of trying to develop a healthy dialogue. (Speaking from experience, having your love for Jesus questioned because you have taken a particular stand is pretty painful.)
I know sometimes it is difficult to comprehend how someone arrived at a certain belief when they profess to be a Christian, but that’s just it…we don’t know all of their experiences and thought processes that led them there, so sometimes it’s a good idea to go back to the old saying: “Let’s agree to disagree,” and then make a decision to believe the best about that person’s heart. And when the Holy Spirit prods us to talk to them about it, let’s ask for the ability to be able to do it with a sense of unity pervading the conversation. And when the Holy Spirit prompts us to keep our mouth shut…let’s keep our mouth shut.
Are we setting a tone of unity when we discuss heavy subjects with fellow believers? Are we conducting ourselves in the manner that Jesus prayed we would? We aren’t required to share the same opinions in order to have unity, but we can agree that our shared love for Jesus will dictate how we handle differing views.
Jesus prayed for US – that we would encourage, exhibit, and exemplify unity. In a world that thrives on division and chaos, unity matters. What a gift we have been given that we can show the world who God is by choosing unity today.